Anth11
Questioning "norms" in/from Queer African Studies

Convenors:
Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam)
Thomas Hendriks (University of Oxford)
Stream:
Social Anthropology
Location:
Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.05
Wednesday 12 June, 14:15-15:45
Wednesday 12 June, 16:15-17:45

Short abstract:

Norms connect and disrupt and thus needs to be studied in relation. This panel brings together papers that empirically investigate the multiple relations between norms and transgression, hegemony and dissidence and convention and invention to rethink queer politics beyond or alongside the "anti".

Long abstract:

Despite its multiple usages, the concept of "queer" often implies an actual or potential relation of opposition to the sexual norm. Within queer theory and queer studies, queer indeed signifies a certain anti-normativity. But what happens to this idea of anti-normativity when the notion of queer is circulating and being transformed in African realities and African Studies? Do activist and academic claims to and desires for queerness retain this dominant oppositional stance towards normativity? Or are such relations of opposition joined by other relations between sexual centres and their multiple margins? How, for instance, to think with our interlocutors' desires "to be normal" in homophobic environments? And how to theoretically foreground actually existing sites, bodies and practices that find themselves in relations of non-opposition to the sexual norm? Anthropological and historical work on same-sex erotics on the African continent and beyond have shown the idea of the sexual norm to be an oxymoron, as sexual and erotic lives have always existed (and continue to do so) in shifting and ambiguous formations and infrastructures. Problematizing the assumption of normativity as a monolithic body of rules that can be outlined, recent work provides new material to rethink the nature of "norms" and thus reconsider the oppositional definition of queerness. Norms connect and disrupt and thus needs to be studied in relation. This panel brings together papers that empirically investigate the multiple relations between norms and transgression, hegemony and dissidence and convention and invention to rethink queer politics beyond or alongside the "anti".